Sanders Defends Medicare For All Funding: "People Will Have To Pay Taxes," "Health Care Is Not Free"

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JAKE TAPPER, HOST, CNN'S 'STATE OF THE UNION':  Let's talk about one of those issues specifically.
 
You and other 2020 Democrats are going to be debating on the stage just steps from where we are right now.  Your Medicare for all plan will be front and center, no doubt.
 
Senator Kamala Harris says she supports it, and she will not raise taxes on middle-class Americans to fund it.  
 
I want you to take a listen to what former Vice President Joe Biden had to say about that.  
 
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
 
JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Well, I find that people who say they're for Medicare for all, but they're not going to tax the middle class, because you don't need to do that, come on.  I mean, what is this?  Is this a fantasy world here?
 
(END VIDEO CLIP)
 
TAPPER:  Do you agree with Vice President Biden that Senator Harris is in a fantasy world?
 
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT):  Well, I think the first thing that we have to understand is, under Medicare for all, similar to what Canada has, people are not going to pay any premiums.  They're not going to pay any deductibles.  They are not going to pay any co-payments.  
 
So if you call a premium a tax, we're getting rid of that.  But I do believe that, in a progressive way, people will have to pay taxes.  The wealthy will obviously pay the lion's share of those taxes.  
 
But at the end of the day, the vast majority of the American people will pay substantially less for the health care that they now receive, because we're going to do away with hundreds of billions of dollars of administrative waste.  We're going to do away with the incredible profiteering of the insurance companies and the drug companies.
 
So people will be paying, in some cases, more in taxes, but, overall, because they're not going to pay premiums, deductibles, co-payments, they will be paying less for their health care.  
 
TAPPER:  So, is Vice President Biden correct that anybody who says Medicare for all is going to happen, but we're not going to raise taxes on anybody or on the middle class is a fantasy world?
 
SANDERS:  No, I think...
 
(CROSSTALK)
 
SANDERS:  Well, obviously, health care is not free.  Right now, we pay it for through premiums and out-of-pocket expenses.  In Canada, it's paid through -- paid through taxes.  We will have to do that.  
 
TAPPER:  A senior aide to former Vice President Biden is laying out his campaign's debate strategy in a new memo that they issued this weekend.  
 
This strategist writes -- quote -- "He's going to draw contrasts where there are policy disagreements in the field, like on health care.  Booker, Gillibrand, Harris and Warren all have signed on to Bernie Sanders' Medicare for all plan, which means higher taxes on the middle class.  That's a nonstarter for Joe Biden."
 
SANDERS:  Well, you...
 
TAPPER:  Now, you're not -- you're not going to be on the stage with him...
 
SANDERS:  Yes.  
 
TAPPER:  ... because of the luck of the draw.
 
SANDERS:  Well, you see, that is disingenuous on the part of Joe.  
 
Yes, it's going to mean higher taxes.  But if I raise your taxes, say, hypothetically, by $8,000, and I remove -- and I lower the health care costs that you're now paying with premiums and deductibles, which are now $12,000, you're $4,000 to the good.  
 
We are the only major country on Earth that does not guarantee health cancel to all or, in one form or another, have a national health care program.  
 
So, we under a Medicare for all, are going to substantially lower prescription drug costs.  We're going to do away with the incredible complexity and bureaucracy and waste in the current system.  
 
But at the end of the day, again, you may pay more in taxes.  You're not paying premiums.  You're not paying co-payments.  You're not paying deductibles.  You will pay less for your health care costs than you're currently paying right now.  
 
TAPPER:  And you think Vice President Biden knows that?
 
SANDERS:  Of course he does.  And nobody -- nobody -- every study out there tells us that Medicare for all will save substantial sums of money.  
 
Last year, the drug companies made $69 billion in profit at the same time as one out of five Americans can't afford the medicine that they need.  So you're seeing massive profiteering on the part of the health care industry.  
 
You're seeing just incredible bureaucracy and waste.  Anybody who deals with an insurance company understands the kind of bureaucracy that exists.  You're seeing now over 80 million Americans who cannot afford the health insurance that they need.  They're either uninsured or they are underinsured.  
 
This is a dysfunctional system designed to make profits for the people in the health care industry, not to provide quality care to all.  We're going to end that.
 
TAPPER:  You just talked about the drug companies.  You're taking a bus to Canada later this morning to fight for more affordable insulin for people with disabilities.  
 
At a fund-raiser last night here in Detroit, you appeared to compare pharmaceutical industry executives who are artificially jacking up prices to murderers.  Take a listen.  
 
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
 
SANDERS:  Somebody goes out and shoots somebody, they're called a murderer.  We all agree with that.  Put them away.  
 
But what happens, what happens if somebody runs a pharmaceutical industry and artificially jacks up the price...
 
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Murderer!
 
UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Murderer!
 
(END VIDEO CLIP)
 
TAPPER:  Pharmaceutical -- pharmaceutical executives -- I think -- first of all, I misspoke.  I said disabilities, when I meant diabetes, obviously, for insulin.
 
Pharmaceutical executive see themselves as people who help save lives and improve lives.  
 
SANDERS:  Right.  
 
TAPPER:  Do you really see them as murderers?  
 
SANDERS:  Well, here's -- we have -- this is a philosophical issue that we have to deal with.  
 
If, in the case of insulin, people are dying right now -- the cost of insulin has soared in recent years.  You have three companies who control over 90 percent of the insulin market.  One out of four people -- we have seven million people who use insulin -- one out of four are rationing on insulin.
 
People are dying.  There is strong evidence that there is price-fixing, that these companies simultaneously raise the prices at outrageous levels, far, far, far more than the cost of production.
 
Jake, if I have a product that costs me a few dollars to make, and I jack up that price, and you can't afford it, and you die, what do you call me?
 
So you can call them whatever you want.  But I will tell you that, as president of the United States, we are going to take on the pharmaceutical industry.  We're going to have an attorney general who is going to deal with the incredible concentration of ownership, and we're going to use antitrust legislation.  
 
I'm going right now, in a few minutes, into Canada.  The cost of insulin is one-tenth of the price, 10 percent of the price, same products, that we're paying here in the United States.  
 
So, you can call the drug company executives whatever you want, but what they are doing involves corruption, in my view.  That's price-fixing.  It involves unbelievable greed, where they're making -- as I mentioned, the top 10 companies last year made $69 billion in profits.  The top three insulin companies make $14 billion in profits.
 
And people are rationing.  One out of four people are rationing their insulin, and people are dying.  That is unacceptable in the United States of America.  
 
And if I'm elected president, trust me, they're not going to get away with that.  



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